BCLC Working On A Reopening Plan For Casinos

By Ben Hamill - June 30 2020
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BCLC Working On A Reopening Plan For Casinos

B.C. casinos were only expected to open during Phase 4 of the province’s reopening plans but may now be reopening well ahead of schedule. And since casinos (and certainly all businesses) have been closed since around mid-March, news of an early reopening is welcome news indeed. Most businesses simply cannot afford to remain closed for months on end and the casino and entertainment industries aren’t exceptions. Overheads remain payable and so do staff and other regular monthly expenses.

The challenge, and especially if B.C. casinos are to receive the final green light for an early reopening, is to ensure that effective safety measures are put into place ahead of the time. And according to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, the British Columbia Lottery Corporation and casino operators are working in close-knit cooperation with WorkSafeBC in order to make an early opening a reality.

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A Proposed Change Of Plan

Currently in Phase 3 of the provincial reopening plan, all concerts, international tourism, live-audience pro sports events, and all conferences will have to wait until Phase 4 before they can expect to receive the reopening thumbs-up. Casinos, being a particularly touch-intensive industry, were initially included in the schedule for Phase 4.

 That casinos have been cleared for reopening in other jurisdictions like Alberta and Las Vegas may have caused somewhat of a reopening schedule concession. The trick is obviously not only to keep players as safe as possible, but also to ensure that casino staff and general industry workers are healthy and safe as well.

That Alberta’s casinos have been open for a few weeks is proving valuable to the local B.C. casino industry. Operators have been closely monitoring the situation in Alberta in order to learn all that can be learned from a health and safety-focused operational point of view.

Planning The Best Way Forward

Precautionary safety measures being considered by the BCLC and local operators include some games being shut down so as to allow for adequate physical distancing, the installation of proper hand-washing stations, hand sanitizers and masks being made freely available and placed at strategic points on casino floors, and even table games not operating at maximum player-capacity. Upgrading outdated ventilation systems is on the agenda too.

Provincial health minister Adrian Dix has in the meantime denied having been notified of any changes to the reopening schedules applicable to local casinos. But by the same token, Dix does seem eager to see the reopening of the province finalised as soon as possible, as the livelihood of many depend on swift and decisive action.

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